Dhoni returns as Chennai smash Titans

CLT20, RANCHI: Super Kings chase down a stiff total in their captain's hometown.

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AB De Villiers top-scored with 77, but it wasn't enough.

The Chennai Super Kings began their Champions League campaign with a near-perfect batting performance against the Titans from South Africa, who failed to defend an impressive score of 185-5.

After a lengthy break, MS Dhoni returned to action at his home town Ranchi’s JSCA International Stadium, much to the delight of his fans. He won the toss and bowled. AB de Villiers’s brilliant 77 should have been enough to ensure Titans a win today, but Chennai’s brute response led by Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina ended the contest very quickly.

Chennai lost Murali Vijay in the first over, thanks to a sharp arm-ball from Roelof van der Merwe. But Raina and Hussey added 89 runs in under eight overs to give the chase a powerful start.

When Raina came in, the floodlights at the venue failed for the second time in the day. According to Ravichandran Ashwin, Raina’s been in bad form in the nets, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell that from the hitting that was to follow once the game resumed.

He waited on the backfoot for Morne Morkel to bounce him and the first ball he faced was pulled almost without any lack of control over midwicket for six. The over, the fourth of the innings, went for 24 runs with Hussey then carving Morkel a couple of times through the off-side.

The highlight of Raina’s innings, however, was the effortless waft off his pads for six off Marchant de Lange. When Raina fell to a loose drive to mid-off, Hussey kept up with the brutal hitting till he too got out on the same score of 47 to a mistimed loft down the ground.

Rowan Richards produced a three-wicket burst late in the game to make things a teensy bit interesting, but so far ahead were Chennai of the required rate, they coasted to the target with seven balls to spare.

Earlier in the day, the moment de Villiers came in to bat at the fall of Jacques Rudolph, the game became a one-man show. De Villiers is possibly the most versatile batsman of his time – he can play spin or pace, he can score on slow wickets or fast, and there’s no corner of the field he can’t hit a ball to.     

He marked his arrival to the crease with a powerful straight drive off his South Africa colleague Albie Morkel. That shot didn’t go all the way for four, but signalled AB’s intentions. He proceeded to dismantle two of Chennai’s best. Ravindra Jadeja was put away for four sixes and Dwayne Bravo a couple.

At the other end was Henry Davids, who did a fine job making 52 in 43 but was put in the shade by de Villiers’ merciless assault on Chennai’s bowlers. Davids was stumped off a wide from Ashwin but the second-wicket partnership had produced 76 runs in six overs, setting up a large score for the Titans. But not large enough to keep the home team at bay.